Tag Archives: decor

Dressing the dresser

I said I was done with my dresser–and I was–but I hadn’t yet dressed it up. I needed a lamp, and a tray to contain any baubles or trinkets that may find themselves resident in the hall. I am a big believer in trays. Cuts down on clutter and accumulation of crap.

I couldn’t find anything I liked, so I made something. A square tray (…ok, it was really a “basswood canvas” from the craft store because all their unfinished trays were either dinky or screamed “let’s have a gee-wilikers ho-down at Walmaert, yah!” And I do not go for that.) spray painted “14 karat gold” and a piece of black and white zigzag scrapbook paper Mod Podged later, we were in business. Hey, longest and most confusing sentence award right there.


Throw in some nifty wood coasters from Target, a jar of antique lighters (…which I had already curated, if you will, in a prior room’s incarnation), and a baby shower placecard frame that I sprayed gold too, filled with an inappropriate photobooth shot of us from a recent wedding, and there’s my tray.

I also hung some new curtains. The white ones were really white. The new ones are greige and linen-y from the Nate Berkus line at Target. They are much more subtle and a lot less white.

And the lamp. I said I had plans for a lamp but I lied. Well, I changed my mind. Target FTW again, kids.

So she’s all dressed up now.


And once more, with some help from my beloved Instagram filters.


Don’t tell, but I found myself cruising craigslist this morning (…for furniture). I think I need a meeting or a sponsor or something.

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Yet another Craigslist dresser makeover

So you may recall that my name is Kelly, and that I have a problem. Specifically, I went through a dark period in my life when I spent too much time and money on Craigslist, buying furniture to revamp. You saw a dresser, a desk, and a chair, and I’m pretty sure I mentioned a second dresser.

Well, for about 30 bucks in the spring, I picked up this lovely brandless mid century dresser from a young doctor who was preparing their house for a new baby and needed to shed some stuff from the space.


The top was a thick laminate. Not a veneer, really, but a photograph of wood covered in plasticky varnish. Like the stock table tops your public elementary school likely had in the art room or the library. It. Was. Ugly. And not quite removable. Ok, challenge numero uno accepted.

It was a nice wood veneer over the rest of the piece, which is typical for the period. But, also typical of the period was the light, almost pecan tone to the wood. Not really our taste, and almost too MCM. Challenge numero dos, accepted.

And I was iffy about the brass-ness of the pulls. Potential challenge numero tres, potentially accepted.

I had grand plans to redo this baby over the summer, but I was lazy and it was le tres hot out. So it waited until like 2 weeks ago…Columbus Day weekend. Which, you’ll note, is not summer. My b.

So we decided on a dark, less MCM and more traditional stain in a satin finish. I used Minwax stain and poly combo in Bombay Mahogany. The top–which could not be removed or stained–was sanded and given two coats of Rustoleum high gloss black latex paint. It actually ended up being pretty matte, which we liked in the end. And those brasstastic pulls? Steve voted that we leave them in their weathered old state. So we did. And they are brass kickin ‘.

So, the dresser is up in its nook at the top of the stairs now. It looks much better than any plaid-blanket-draped dog crate ever could.





I don’t have any more Craigslist finds stashed around the house, so this ends the Tale of Kelly’s Craigslist Dresser Addiction.

…But I do have a project planned for the lamp that will sit on this dresser. So stay tuned for that.

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Hello, My Name is Kelly

… and I have a problem.



Specifically, I have a thing for trolling Craigslist for pieces that are under fifty bucks, could benefit from some paint or stain, and are solid classic designs. And man, have I been lucky.

It all started when we realized (ok, I realized and told Steve) that we had a severe lack of useful furniture in our guest rooms. Yes, guest roomS. Our house has three bedrooms. We occupy one, and empty beds occupy the other two. With no plans for people joining this family to fill said rooms for some time (sorry Nana), they are presently guest rooms. Or, dressing rooms. And an office. And a room for Roomba to be plugged in and sleep.

Anyway, there are two other bedrooms: a big one, and a little one. The big one is the same size as our bedroom, the small one is about half that size.

The big guest room has always had a queen size bed/headboard, a nightstand with two drawers (the headboard and nightstand are part of the set we split up–we have the dresser and bureau/mirror in our bedroom), and a director’s chair.  And that was it. Period. Nothing else. Well, there were some lamps and an iHome on the floor in the corner, which, as we all know, is the proper way to welcome guests into your home. This is the room, empty as can be, right after the paint and floors were done way back in December.

The bigger guest room, painted MS’s Milk Pail green.

The smaller bedroom is actually quite full, but it would take an overrun of guests for us to actually stick someone in there. So, we sort of don’t care. It has a twin bed with an upholstered headboard, a desk, filing cabinet, and a tall bookcase. The tall bookcase is a big MDF-and-paper-veneer behemoth left over from when my parents bought their house (…before I was born), but it is solid and we needed some storage, so we took it. It will likely move to the basement eventually, leaving a big gap in space and storage in the small room.

The bigger guest room is the one that has gotten me into trouble on Craigslist, as there was a more pressing need to add useful and stylish storage. So we decided that we’d need a dresser, a vanity or sideboard-type console table, and an ottoman or something that guests could put a suitcase, etc. on. We wanted this room to be very comfortable, but look rustic-ish and exude a camping-gone-five-star theme. Watch Dirty Dancing, Moonrise Kingdom, and Dan In Real Life in rapid succession, and you should get the idea.

We were able to find a great ottoman at Home Goods, so that was easy. But then the Craigslist search began.

I struck gold right away. And by “struck gold,” I, of course, mean that I found a school-bus-yellow dresser with great bones and awesome hardware that I just had to have. Steve liked it, with the caveat that it had to be painted. Duh, I’m with you there. When we went to pick it up, we were charmed. The young woman who sold it to us was cleaning out her parents’ home–her childhood home–and the dresser had been hers as a child. Her father was stationed in Japan when she was a little girl, and he had the dresser made for her in Japan. This made sense: it was a great combination of campaign and tansu style. There were the telltale corner brackets of campaign dressers, along with gorgeous hand-forged wrought iron tansu pulls. It was something special. And it was thirty bucks.

I sadly don’t have any photos of the before on this dresser, but you can just imagine when you see the afters.

Armed with a tutorial (google Centsational spray paint) on how to spray paint furniture, a ton of spray paint (Kilz primer, Valspar satin Thorny Brush) and a can of Minwax Polycrylic, I started. And this, my friends, is the gawgeous shiny finished product. Like I said, imagine it screaming matte yellow.

Reattaching that hardware was a beast.

I’m insanely proud of it. There are some spots where the yellow shows, like around the handles. The corner brackets all came off for the painting process, but the tansu handles couldn’t be removed. So I taped the handles in an upright position and covered the brackets behind the pulls in vaseline with Q-Tips. Gloopy and gloppy, but it worked like a charm.

Like I said before, I was also on the hunt for a narrow desk or vanity-like piece for along one of the walls. Loving the look of Chippendale-esq, faux bamboo (perhaps too many episodes of Golden Girls? Impossible: there is no such thing as too many episodes of Golden Girls!), it was in the back of my mind that I’d find something like that. Not keeping my hopes too high, I just trolled and looked and waited.

And, again, I scored. Evil laugh.

The before?

The picture posted on Craigslist.

Hmmm, that could do! It was forty bucks, and came with a sad looking wicker chair:

Sorry for the shadow… but it was bad. Full of cat hair and dust.

I had basically no interest in the chair, as it wouldn’t go in the bedroom. But I took the chair–the guy was desperate–and figured we’d either stick it in the basement or redo it.

Well, I whipped out the spray paint again (this time, Valspar Cobolt Cannon, plus high gloss clear spray)….and Blanche Devereaux’s desk looked like this:

Yeah, we definitely still have a stripe of Cobolt Cannon grass.


And the ugly cat hair chair? We decided it could be a great addition to the area formerly known as the eat-in-kitchen. I wanted a bold color, and when Steve okayed that, I said “you pick!” So he chose Valspar’s Indigo Cloth, a rich royal blue. I added a coat of the spray high gloss coat after, and here we have quite the improvement:

Still drying, but you get the idea.

I’ll post true “Afters”–the pieces in their respective places–when I have those areas more organized.

There’s one more Craigslist find that I’m super excited about, but I haven’t gotten anything done with that yet. For a whopping thirty-five bucks, I scored this beauty:

The top is thinly veneered and needs to be sanded down, but the rest is solid wood.

My plan right now is to sand it down and stain it a dark teak color, then wax over it. This will probably go in the nook at the top of the stairs (under the window), or in the smaller bed room where the tall bookcase stands now.

Sit tight for updates!


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Bright Idea

With the exception of the upstairs bathroom and the basement, every light fixture in every room has now been replaced. Upgraded, really. You’ll remember the gold and beige situation in the dining room, the boob on the kitchen ceiling, the curly victorian thing in the eat-in-kitchen, and the “ready for my close up” exposed bulb fixture in the powder room. And you must, then, recall our penchant for replacing them with more up-to-date, yet traditional, fixtures. All of those fixtures are brushed silver tone finish with opaque shades in either glass or traditional cloth drum shades.

The only other two light fixtures that needed replacing were the entryway over the front door and the hallway upstairs. Not boob lights, but dusty sand dollar lights:



They are really small for their respective spaces, plus they are outdated. And outdated doesn’t last long in this house. Well, not since we’ve been paying the mortgage. Can’t speak for before then…

These two lights are visible at the same time, so we wanted something that either matched or complimented each other. We also wanted fixtures that “went with” the other fixtures on the first floor. Other considerations? Price, size, light output, and clearance. The front door swings mighty close to the fixture…


There is a total of 6″ between the ceiling and the door. Tight.

The search took a while. Mostly outdoor porch lights were considered because they tended to meet most (if not all) of the criteria. The biggest problem was, predictably, getting style and size for a great price. Super frustrating. Things were either too modern or too old fashioned (…and not in a complimentary way), and too expensive, or too good of a deal and a major compromise.

Then, I saw this.


It hit all the goals, even being very low profile….except for price. Yeeps. And we’d need two. Double yeeps.

So onto the Internets I ventured, where I found the same fixture for about $100.00. Meh. We talked about it and decided that it was worth it for the look, the quality (very good–much less chintzy than big box options), and the size. They are 14″ across, so they’d nicely fill the space.

We ordered ’em up, and then waited. And waited. Man, Amazon Prime and free two-day shipping has ruined me.

They arrived yesterday, and up they went.


It fits!



It works!


Upstairs looks great too.

All together now!


Super awkward angle there, woah.

These fixtures were worth the wait, and just seeing them up makes me happy. I am such a dork.

Up next? Maybe catching y’all up on our veggie CSA? Finally showing you the guest room and my obsession with Craigslist dressers? Perhaps.

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Merde! And Other Bathroom Appropriate Exclamations

Yet more progress, thus another photo update post.

Where did I leave off? Ah, yes, the hole was tiled, the bead board went up, and some gray paint graced the walls.

Since then:

Finished the gray paint and my very handy brother in law installed the base board and moulding (I’m English now, keep up):




The light fixture went up:




The beadboard, baseboard, and moulding got painted. No picture of that step, sorry.

And le grande piece de resistance du merde? Le toilet!


It’s an ADA height dual flush (ie different amounts of water used depending on the, uh, contents…no delicate way to put that). It’s been test driven and we like it. No more super low toilet wasting water and, worse, inundating our ancient cesspool slash septic with water. The door went back up when the toilet went in so it can at least be enjoyed!

So, I had been searching for the perfect small simple mirror for this room, and I hated most of what I was seeing out there. Or, I loved it but was not dropping the cash for a bathroom mirror. Enter Etsy. And this gorgeous, very inexpensive ($30!) vintage mirror:


…which arrived looking like this:


It was basically shipped in a package of angel tears and unicorn feathers, ie completely inadequate for a mirror. I was heart broken, for true. I was determined to salvage it somehow, so I called the glass place nearby, who wanted $60 to replace the mirror. Apparently this mirror was going to be crafted from antique royal glass used in the Palace of Versailles. So instead I took my chances and found a $10 centerpiece mirror at JoAnn Fabrics. Et voila?! It worked. Here’s my gorgeous baby hanging in the living room.


She will be moving into the powdah room once the sink is installed.

Hopefully only one more progress post, then I can reveal the room as complete! The sink, faucet, towel bar, shelf, mirror, window frosting, art, plants (maybe?), and accessories are yet to come.

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Slowly but Surely

So, you’ll recall what the downstairs bathroom looked like before we set out to de-uglify it. Well, here’s a quick photographic progression of the project thus far.

Sink, toilet, mirror, light fixture, tile– out. Adios.


The yellowed 50-year-old thinset that was under the brown tile was actually prettier than the tile itself.

And the hole under the vanity? Gah, we’re still baffled by that decision.


Here’s the tile we chose for the hole. Sold by the square foot at Home Depot, actually cheaper than our tile outlet options.


Naturally, said tile ended up on said hole.


Due to some bad plumbing choices circa 1958, and some emergency-ish plumbing solutions circa Friday, the hole is not centered on the roughed in plumbing for the sink. When you get to cover the rough-in with a vanity, it doesn’t have to be pretty, nor does it have to be centered. Unfortunately, it’s a different thing with a pedestal sink. So:


Yeah, it’s off center. But we’ll live. Just wait until you see where the light fixture lands in all this…

Anywho, the beadboard is in,


the outlet is moved (and will be replaced with a white gfi outlet eventually),


the first coat of paint is up,


and the best part?


Aggie finally got a much (much!) needed bath. After 6 weeks in a splint wrap for a luxated patella (which went on after our Easter trip…and a solid 2 or 3 weeks after her first bath), that sweet face stank something wicked. It was time, let me smell tell ‘ya.

Next? My very handy brother in law will be getting some construction practice by installing the trim, baseboard, and whatever else. I’ll paint the beadboard and all the trim, and do any touch ups on the gray. Then in goes the toilet and the light fixture. Then the sink and all the plumbing and faucet stuff that goes therewith. I’ll frost the window some time soon, and the towel bar and shelf will go in after that. Lots to do, and I can’t wait until it’s done.

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One “theme room” too far

I’ve mentioned before that we enjoy very subtle themes in rooms. Not “Frank from Trading Spaces chicken theme” rooms, but super subtle things like a loosely surf ‘n turf dining room.

Well, who[m?]ever did the downstairs bathroom before us apparently was a fan of the theme room. I’ll admit, it’s a subtle theme utilizing colors, but it really hits home when you’re, um, sitting there. Any guesses?


Yes, those are yellow walls and indescribable-brown tiles. And yes, that is a bathroom themed bathroom. Yellow brown, brown yellow, you catching my drift? It’s the dream decor of 12 year old boys and/or Jonathan Swift-wannabees everywhere.

The nice thing is everything works. But everything–except the floors–is ugly with a capital awful. So thus begins our first big DIY renovation (let’s pretend we’re Canadian and call it a reno!).

First, a quick tour.

Again, this is the room as you walk in.


And as you are, uh, in there:


It’s a very small little powder room on the first floor, just off the kitchen and side entryway. How small? This small:


Yeah, tiny. It is 6.5′ x 4ish’. And that hackjob of a vanity doesn’t help.

And it was built for people who are either very low to the ground or had much stronger quads than do I. The toilet is low, yo.


And the light fixture, aside from being dated and fugly (I’m seriously running out of ways to say “ugly”), takes a while to warm up. So unless you are settling in to write a novel in there, it’s darkish for most of your visit.

But, you say, there’s a window! There sure is, and it is perpetually covered by this door mat roman shade:


This is a totally unfair picture, actually, because the shade is up. But, being a bathroom, and with the toilet right underneath the window, privacy is nice so the shade is mostly down most of the time. I mean sure, we’ve met our neighbors, but that’s a bit much.

My final but major problem with this room is the fact that when they installed the vanity (or the flooring), they didn’t continue the hardwood floor under the vanity. Because, of course, all the subsequent owners of the home would agree that the vanity could never be removed…..eyeroll.


After touring the house twice before we purchased, we knew that this room was high on our list for a reno. It’s ugly, outdated, and inefficient in terms of space and water usage. And we knew it was a job we could do ourselves in a weekend. So over Memorial Day weekend, We’re diving in. Here’s our list:
• rip out toilet, vanity, mirror, and light fixture
• rip out tile
• remove shade
• paint upper half of wall
• tile the sink hole with Carrara marble
• install 4′ bead board with baseboard and moulding to lower half of wall
• install small pedestal sink and new faucet
• install high efficiency dual flush toilet with a higher height
• install light fixture
• install mirror
• install marble threshold shelf over sink
• install one towel bar
• hang some art
• frost the window

We’re buying all of our materials this weekend, so I can share the wallet damage then. But our initial projections have us coming in safely under $600.00. We shall see!

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Light, camera, blog post

This weekend, we tackled the lighting situation in the kitchen. It was bad before:




(These are obviously pictures from before we bought the house–we didn’t get all new furniture and paint everything blood red since our last post)

Over the workspace, we had a huge white boob light that, frankly, didn’t put out enough light. Gracing the skies over what is meant to be the eat in kitchen area was an awful brown curly victorian looking contractor grade chandelier. Steve and my dad both became well acquainted with the chandelier in the first few visits we had in the house, as they both smacked their heads into it several times each. So as soon as we closed, we zip tied that sucka up to the ceiling and promptly forgot about it. It put out pretty great light out, so it was not high on our list to replace.

I should note that we have zero plans to put a table in that spot, as it really is too small if you want to use the slider, basement, and the pantry. So a chandelier made no sense in that spot.

The last light in that area was a simple flush mount above the window, over the sink, hidden behind a cornice board. After painting that area, we just left the light bulb in the socket and ditched the globe. And again, we fuggudaboutit.

Last weekend’s light fixture project in the dining room was the straw that broke the really ugly camel’s back. I was itching to replace the uglies you can see above. Some light googling (ha!) later, we had two semi flush mount non boob fixtures for the kitchen. And with some medallions thrown in for good measure to hide some wicked haggard looking ceilings, we were in updated transitional style business.


Together, on:


I love that they are pretty traditional but in a more modern finish and with a modern touch–the shade.


They relate well to the dining room fixture.


The sink light was not forgotten. We opted for a mini pendant in the same brushed nickel finish with an opaque white glass shade.


It all looks pretty nice together.


It’s so light and bright now, and a far cry from the blood red bordello kitchen, complete with boobs (apropos for a bordello, non?) and a creepy victorian chandelier.

The two semi flush mount lights were $99 each at Home Depot (the Hampton Bay Gala line), and the pendant parts were like $40 total from Lowes.

Next up? The front door entryway light and the light at the top of the stairs. They’s gotta go, y’all. Them’s ugly.

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Goodbye eighties, goodbye nineties

Hello aughts.

We awoke today to find ourselves almost devoid of any non-yard projects. So we went to Lowe’s and bought ourselves a project. Mind you, this project had been on the list since before we even toured the house. And you’ve seen it.

Ring any bells?


If you guessed “rip out that hideous light fixture and center a new one over the table,” you win a prize. The goldtone and wheat-motif Applebee’s-circa-1988 light need not grace our home any longer. No gracias.

So? So:




We’d been eying something like this for a while, and when this one was magically on clearance (or, as I call it, my friend Clarence), we went for it.

And because we would never want to inflict the same ugly on anyone else:


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I’m crafty like a fox

Unfortunately, I’m not actually crafty. As in, I suck at crafting. I’m impatient, a champion pragmatist, and I can’t properly use scissors (…or a ruler).

So when I get the itch for crafts (infrequent, I promise), I prepare myself and Steve for disaster.

I had been wanting to do something with the paint chips from when we painted the whole house. Our entire house is painted in the same four shades, all close in tone and saturation. That way, the rooms really flow nicely. Subtle changes in paint colors make for a nice experience–no shocking, disjointed room-to-room transitions, I can accessorize easily, etc.

So I wanted to create something with the chips and text for the entryway on the side of the house. Like a “this is what you’re in for” piece.

After a quick trip to Michael’s for a frame and some letter decals (Thickers, to be exact. As in thick stickers, or stickers with a lisp–which is my preferred pronunciation), I worked my very basic magic. And yesterday, I hung it up. Ta da!


And a blurry close up of my crooked work:


I really like it. Just don’t look too closely at the straightness and/or centeredness of the lettering. I warned you.

My next project in progress is paint chip coasters, a la Pinterest. Sneak peek:


What my picture doesn’t capture are the papers stuck to the Mod Podged coasters, the ripped edges of the paint chips, the awful scissor job… yeesh.

But you can see what a disorganized “crafter” I am!


Good Christian home-schooling soccer moms everywhere are weeping for me.

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